News & Analysis

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    On this we agree: Tor’s executive director calls for “respectful” dialogue around Pando’s reporting

    Back in July, Pando’s Yasha Levine wrote about the close funding ties between Tor and the US government. Shortly afterwards, all hell broke loose. As Yasha wrote later, and I’ve followed up since, some members of the Tor community responded to our reporting through what appeared to be a smear campaign. Yasha was accused of being a CIA plant, other Pando writers were called rapists, fascists and worse (!) and one prominent Tor developer accused us of…
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    Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel: Our secrets are sacred, but yours aren’t

    Yesterday, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel became the latest high-profile victim of the ever-worsening Sony hack, which revealed personal emails, social security numbers, full unreleased movies, and a host of other materials. We won’t go into detail about what was revealed. What’s perhaps more newsworthy — or at least ironic, considering Snapchat’s far-from-pristine record on user privacy — is Spiegel’s self-righteous reaction to having his “secrets” revealed. In a note titled “Keeping Secrets,” sent to his team and shared on Twitter, Spiegel writes: I’ve…
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    Startups Anonymous: Will people quit saying that it’s all about the team. It’s ALL about the idea!

    [This is a weekly series that brings you raw, first-hand experiences from founders and investors in the trenches. Their story submissions are anonymous, allowing them to share openly without fear of retribution. Every Wednesday, we’ll run one new story chosen by Dana Severson, who operates StartupsAnonymous, a place for startups to share, ask questions, and  answer them in story-length posts, all anonymously. You can share your own story here.] It really pisses me off that…
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    [SPONSORED] “Payments is a messy business”

    This post is sponsored by Braintree. Pando retains full editorial control over the content of sponsored posts.  In this sponsored interview with Braintree’s Bill Ready, he talks about hugging it out with ApplePay, why Venmo worked and Blippy didn’t, and why payments are so damn hard. I started out by asking him about his apparently controversial decision to bet the company on mobile commerce. BR: Mid-2011 we said we’re gonna bet everything on mobile; almost all of our product development. We…
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    Reddit quickly bans users for sharing Sony Pictures’ leaked documents. If only it had done the same for #celebgate

    It’s easier for a corporation to convince Reddit to prevent its users from sharing information than it is for celebrities whose phones were hacked to trust the site to remove stolen (and often nude) photos. Business Insider reports that the self-described front page of the Internet has complied with “less than a handful” of takedown requests filed by Sony Pictures Entertainment to keep data leaked as the result of the company’s November hacking from continuing its digital spread. Reddit…
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    FCC prepares to fine Sprint $105M

    The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly planning to fine Sprint some $105 million for “cramming” fees onto its customers’ mobile phone bills. The fine, if the FCC decides to pursue it, would be the largest ever levied against a telecom for its billing practices. [Source: The Wall Street Journal]
  9. iPhone

    ChowNow integrates Apple Pay, helps its SMB restaurants beat the majors to one-touch checkout

    Running a small business is hard. Not only do you need to worry about acquiring customers and delivering your product or service, but in today’s instant gratification world, business owners are expected to offer their consumers the newest, most exciting technology, whatever that may be and however often it may change. A decade ago, that meant having your own website. Then, businesses were expected to list on Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz, or any number of other online platforms. Today, it…
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  11. Google

    Google opens an experimental end-to-end encryption tool up to scrutiny

    Google has moved End-To-End, an experimental tool meant to bring end-to-end encryption to the company’s Gmail service, over to GitHub so it can be scrutinized by independent groups. End-To-End is part of Google’s efforts to improve its image after it was implicated in the global surveillance programs revealed over the last year-and-a-half. It was one of several companies accused of including backdoors in their products for intelligence agencies to exploit — a claim which has been vehemently denied —…
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    Does your startup have a strong brand or are you fooling yourself? Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew explains how to tell

    Ecommerce is a risky business. Just look at Fab’s precipitous fall from a rarefied $1 billion valuation to a $15 million fire sale, which Michael Carney called one of “the biggest whiffs we’ve ever seen in the private markets.”  But one thing Fab supposedly had was a brand. Wasn’t brand supposed to carry it through the rough margins and cutthroat competition of the ecommerce racket? Isn’t anything possible with a brand???? It depends on how you build it and how…
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    NSA taken to court for Internet surveillance

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today that its case against the National Security Agency, which is said to have collected information about AT&T customers in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of its global surveillance dragnet, will head to court on December 19. [Source: EFF]
  15. police-search

    A small win against law enforcement’s perpetual surveillance machine

    A police department in Washington state trained a webcam on a target’s house for six weeks. The device recorded the home all day, every day, and its feed was backed up to an external hard drive. Police eventually saw the target firing a gun for target practice, and because he was suspected of living in the United States illegally, that was enough for them to raid his home. The only problem: the department never got a warrant to conduct the surveillance. That failure to obtain…
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    Jeremy Liew: If I were to go back, I’d skip all my operating experience and go straight into VC

    “I’ve learned that venture is hard. Startups are hard. You do the best you can with imperfect information. Some of the time, you get it right. Sometimes you get it really right. But sometimes you get it wrong. We invest in entrepreneurs and their vision of the future.” ~Jeremy Liew Almost a decade into his VC career, Lightspeed Venture Partners partner Jeremy Liew has found his way into a few of the best companies of their generation. His portfolio includes apparent…
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    The Racket, signifying nothing

    “The Racket was cruising along with the kind of editorial independence only a billionaire can buy you. It had no immediate deliverables: no traffic goals, no revenue plan, not even an ad sales team. The only plan was to build an audience.” – Mat Honan, Wired  There’s an old joke: “Ideas are like assholes: Everybody has one, most of them stink.” Judging by Mat Honan’s profile of failed satire blog, The Racket, an equally true punchline would be: “Ideas are like assholes:…
  19. puff-puff-chat-pot-leaf

    Congress ends federal ban on medical marijuana, blazing a trail for weed startups

    Investors are riding high on marijuana startups. Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund*, for example, is reportedly participating in a $75 million Series B round in weed company Privateer at a stratospheric $425 million valuation. But as with other growth industries as green as this, legality has still been a major concern. San Francisco’s Eaze isn’t called “The Uber of pot” just because it makes for a catchy startup pitch — Like Uber, its weed delivery system faces its share…
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    Robots are getting better at writing content. Here’s why that’s good news for journalism

    What do we talk about when we talk about “content”? We say that it’s “king,” we say that it’s a smart investment (though maybe not for long). We speak of the “Content Wars,” wherein dozens of news outlets rewrite the same viral stories about toilet-paper-eating moms or a fancy new Star Wars trailer in a mad dash for web traffic. The victors of the Content Wars are determined not by the “content” itself, but…
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The Week in Review